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Professor Vinesh Raja

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The relationship between humans and technology is one of the key areas being investigated by Professor Vinesh Raja.

The Information Technology Group, headed up by Prof Raja, aims to make Warwick a world-leader in the field of informatics, or the science of information processing.

With every industry now coping with vast amounts of data from a huge range of sources, the challenge lies in helping people find ways of interpreting and using it efficiently.

Engineering, manufacturing, and, increasingly, healthcare, are the main areas to benefit from the research, which encompasses a wide variety of processes including computer modelling, reverse engineering, e-business and virtual reality.

Professor Raja explains: “Nowadays data can come in many different forms – in anything from a pie chart to a graph to a 3-D model.

“What we are trying to do is understand how people create information from that data in order to get knowledge and then wisdom in order to gain maximum benefit. We need to know how people interact with technology and this is known as the human-robotic interface.”

One of the most innovative schemes is the development of a huge ‘Cybersphere’ at the International Manufacturing Centre, funded partly with a SMART award from the Department of Trade and Industry.

The sophisticated rotating sphere offers a virtual environment in which a person can actually walk, creating an interface between technology and natural human movement. The project has potential for application in many sectors including computer gaming, the military and construction and a research centre in Italy is planning to build its own cybersphere in order to investigate the treatment of people with phobias without the use of drugs.

Other patient focused research projects either planned or underway may have a further major impact on the delivery of healthcare. These include investigating whether people with diabetes can use technology to monitor their condition at home rather than having to make frequent trips to their GP; enabling people recovering from strokes to take charge of their own rehabilitation using robotic devices; looking at the development of a’virtual breast’ to improve techniques for checking cancer; computer assisted surgical planning and modelling of human anatomy.

Before coming to Warwick, Professor Raja spent 12 years in industry, in the machine tool trade and then as an IT consultant to Rover Group.

He is also in charge of the Object Technology Centre, the Computer Integrated Manufacturing Centre, the Reverse Engineering Centre, the Virtual Reality Centre and the leading internet-based knowledge portal, the Collaborative Product Commerce Centre.

 

Professor Raja is a board member of Technology Application Network (TANET), a network of technology centres providing support for the introduction of new technology in engineering and manufacturing in the UK.

 

In 1995 he spearheaded the creation of a Warwick-based Sun European Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in conjunction with the Sun Microsystems Computer Company.